Soil Health Cards (SHC) had been a key component of pilots on the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) or Aadhaar-enabled Fertiliser Distribution System (AEFDS) pilots across India. The Indian government had entrusted MSC to support and scale up the pilots from the start. SHCs inform farmers about the appropriate use of fertilizer and nutrients for crops. The use of SHC was supposed to influence the decision of the farmers while buying fertilizer. We discovered that farmers were not at all influenced by SHC while buying fertilizers, as they were either not aware of it or did not find it useful.

MSC conducted a human-centered design-based research to understand the factors that influenced farmers when they applied fertilizers to their fields and their perceptions about SHC. The research explored channels to inform farmers about SHC and identified the nudges that change farmers’ behavior. We used the insights derived from the research to design an outreach campaign that the district authorities used to increase the uptake and usage of SHC among farmers.

A leading advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) used our insights to design the campaign, comprising informative radio jingles and posters. This was test launched in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. MSC’s interventions led to farmers using SHCs actively in Krishna district—at the time of writing, this was the only district in the country to do so.